VEDANT SHARMA | 15 NOVEMBER, 2018
Rohit Sharma’s comeback?
Muhammad Ali’s punch, Michael Jackson’s moves, Michael Jordan’s jump, Cristiano Ronaldo’s accuracy, MS Dhoni’s strategy, Viswanathan Anand’s fortitude, Don Bradman’s consistency and Rohit Sharma's conversion rate -- these sports persons and their defining traits will always be remembered.
In the recent past, Rohit Sharma has evolved as a cricketer and is quite aware of what the 'nation' is expecting out of him.
His superlative record in the limited overs arena is enough for spectators around the world to believe in his skill and temperament. Seeing him smash the white ball and having that exceptional talent to convert hundreds into a big ones, every cricket-pundit believes that the 31-year-old deserves to face the red cherry.
If one actually looks back to the cricket journal, they will realize that 'not-so-old' Rohit Sharma has been around for a while now. He was a part of the T20 World Cup winning squad and also featured in the Commonwealth Bank series against the Aussies in the same year. He has international experience of a little over 11 years, and while maybe not a veteran, he’s definitely no newbie.
However, whenever the selectors have shown their faith in him, he hasn't been able to stand tall and deliver in the longest format of the game, except for the debut series against the 'underdogs' West Indies (Now Windies).
In 2013, in what was touted as 'Sachin Tendulkar's Farewell Series,’ Rohit Sharma made it to the Indian squad in the longest format of the game. With Tendulkar calling it a day, the likes of Mahendra Singh Dhoni and the selection panel felt that the time was right to try an experienced limited overs cricketer to do the job in the middle order.
Then 26-year-old Rohit Sharma dealt with the challenge with authority and hammered the opposition bowlers like never before. Scoring 177 runs in his debut Test and smashing another ton in the following game, he was able to announce his arrival at the sport’s top most level.
His hand-eye coordination was a prime example of why the selectors backed him. Though, his dream debut was overshadowed by Tendulkar's farewell innings but Sharma was still able to occupy that second spot and deliver a memorable innings.
However, he was not consistent and the inability to convert the starts into big scores denied him a stable spot in the Indian squad. His third century for India came after a gap of four years in 2017 against Sri Lanka.
Scoring a total of 78 runs in his last four Test innings against Proteas on their home soil earlier this year, Sharma paved the way for his exit from the Test team. The paucity of runs was cited as the pivotal reason for his exit.
Following the meek performance, Rohit was dropped for the home series against Afghanistan and then against England and Windies. However, to everyone's surprise, the selectors have once again shown faith in his skills as he features in India's Test team against the Aussies.
But what could have been the strategy behind selecting Rohit Sharma ahead of the existing reserve players for the tour of Australia? Why not Karun Nair, Hanuma Vihari, and Mayank Agarwal? What did they do to miss out? Should form in the limited overs enough to get a Test call? Is the selection panel even seeing the domestic circuit performance? Or it's the international exposure that may come handy in the Australian conditions?
A lot of questions were raised and well, why not? But now, since Sharma is back in the Indian jersey, it becomes important for him to produce a good innings, one that many believe he is capable of. Averaging just under 40 in Test cricket isn't that bad for a lower middle-order batsman in the long format, but is it anywhere near the standards set by Rohit Sharma?
What has the upcoming series brought to Rohit Sharma? An opportunity to fix his spot in the middle-order, an opportunity to prove his credentials, an opportunity to be seen as an all-three format player, and an opportunity to finally cement his place in the Indian team.
Can Rohit Sharma answer all the questions raised against him? We’ll soon know.